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Why hitting drivers off your knees is the best drill for your swing



Growing up in a small, rural town, I didn’t have access to a lot of instruction, nor was it easily available. Sites like GolfWRX weren’t around at the time. Being fascinated with the golf swing at an early age, I had to rely on trial and error with my own swing, an old-school camera and the once-a-month Golf Digest issue.

Every month, I would scan that Golf Digest for tips from the best golfers and golf instructors in the world. The names changed, but the same old instruction was often given in the write ups. I would constantly try to mirror the images of what I saw, following the tips to gain more power and to be more consistent.

Then there was our PGA Teaching Professional at our local golf course. The 10th hole at our local muni had a creek running across the fairway, a good 230 yards out. Usually with a few spectators on hand, Tad would tee up a ball, place a towel on the ground and proceed to hit a driver from his knees, clearing the creek with ease. At first sight, it was simply hard to believe. Many bets were won with that swing.

Already being a student of the swing, this left me confused. How could he create so much speed and power from that position? Everything I read told me that power came from a “big shoulder turn” on the backswing and “firing my hips” on the downswing.

At the time, I thought my local PGA pro had mastered a trick-shot. Now I realize that hitting drivers off your knees, or just swinging from your knees, is the best drill for your golf swing and can instantly change your game.

Here’s why.

When you swing the club from your knees, it forces you to turn your upper body in the proper direction and maintain your spine angle. The best way to make contact is to fold up your right arm, which will pull your body into the proper coil position behind the ball. Simply folding up your right arm will pull your shoulders around, so a conscious, big shoulder turn is not necessary.

To a player who doesn’t turn in the proper direction, swinging from your knees will feel more around or level with the shoulders at first. “Tilters” as I call them, or players whose spines tend to move toward the target on their backswing, will not be able to make contact doing this drill. They will feel like they are hitting well behind the ball when attempting to swing, and will be forced to adjust.

face on

Swinging from your knees is also a great drill to produce speed, especially arm speed. Being down in this position will stabilize your body, getting rid of extra moving parts. Now you can generate shaft speed with your arms.

Anytime we can limit extra moving body parts in the golf swing, we have a greater chance to produce speed and consistency. A longer swing does not mean more speed and is usually a false sense of power. In the video below, former Re-Max Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadlowski hits a golf ball 331 yards from his knees.

For players who battle the dreaded “over-the-top” move, which causes a weak ball flight, feeling how your right arm works throughout this drill (for a right-handed golfer) will give you instant feedback on how your right arm should work both on the backswing and downswing. A tucked, right arm on the downswing is a key move for delivering a powerful inside path to the ball.

Again, in order to make contact with the ball from on your knees, your right arm must stay tucked in on the downswing, which is a must to keeping the shaft shallow (show below) and will help produce a draw ball flight.


If you are not ready to give the driver off the knees a try or don’t feel comfortable doing the drill at your local range, try practicing with an alignment stick with no ball as shown below. Take your stance from your knees and practice swinging the alignment stick with your right arm only. Work on building up speed and you will still get the feeling of how your arms and body work throughout the drill. You will notice how much speed you can generate from such a small limited move.


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Kelvin is a Class A PGA golf professional in San Francisco, California. He teaches and has taught at some of the top golf clubs in the Bay Area, including the Olympic Club and Sonoma Golf Club. He is TPI certified, and a certified Callaway and Titleist club fitter. Kelvin has sought advice and learned under several of the top instructors in the game, including Alex Murray and Scott Hamilton. To schedule a lesson, please call 818.359.0352 Online lessons also available at



  1. Pingback: How golf should be learned – GolfWRX

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  3. jacob

    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Great article…try it …

  4. WayneKing

    Sep 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Those them curry life alert shoes?

    You ever made over the creek on 10 at ukiah?

  5. BSGolf

    Sep 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Kevin Kelly responsible for drivers breaking at the hosel across the nation…

  6. Mr. Wedge

    Sep 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I had an instructor who made me do this once, but didn’t really explain why and maybe that’s why I didn’t keep trying. Might try it into a net at home. I’d hate to do this in public at the range.

  7. Dave C

    Sep 26, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    It would be nice if the video was attached so we could watch it!

  8. JStan

    Sep 26, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Great drill. Is that Presidio? Sure looks like it.

    • Lowell

      Sep 26, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Looks like number 18 at Harding Park to me JStan. 18 at Presidio is that Long Straight par 5. Both are beautiful courses.

  9. KoreanSlumLord

    Sep 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    This drill was often used by Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus on the practice tee.

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The Wedge Guy: The easiest-to-learn golf basic



My golf learning began with this simple fact – if you don’t have a fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, it is practically impossible for your body to execute a fundamentally sound golf swing. I’m still a big believer that the golf swing is much easier to execute if you begin with the proper hold on the club.

As you might imagine, I come into contact with hundreds of golfers of all skill levels. And it is very rare to see a good player with a bad hold on the golf club. There are some exceptions, for sure, but they are very few and very far between, and they typically have beat so many balls with their poor grip that they’ve found a way to work around it.

The reality of biophysics is that the body moves only in certain ways – and the particulars of the way you hold the golf club can totally prevent a sound swing motion that allows the club to release properly through the impact zone. The wonderful thing is that anyone can learn how to put a fundamentally sound hold on the golf club, and you can practice it anywhere your hands are not otherwise engaged, like watching TV or just sitting and relaxing.

Whether you prefer an overlap, interlock or full-finger (not baseball!) grip on the club, the same fundamentals apply.  Here are the major grip faults I see most often, in the order of the frequency:

Mis-aligned hands

By this I mean that the palms of the two hands are not parallel to each other. Too many golfers have a weak left hand and strong right, or vice versa. The easiest way to learn how to hold the club with your palms aligned properly is to grip a plain wooden ruler or yardstick. It forces the hands to align properly and shows you how that feels. If you grip and re-grip a yardstick several times, then grip a club, you’ll see that the learning curve is almost immediate.

The position of the grip in the upper/left hand

I also observe many golfers who have the butt of the grip too far into the heel pad of the upper hand (the left hand for right-handed players). It’s amazing how much easier it is to release the club through the ball if even 1/4-1/2″ of the butt is beyond the left heel pad. Try this yourself to see what I mean.  Swing the club freely with just your left hand and notice the difference in its release from when you hold it at the end of the grip, versus gripping down even a half inch.

To help you really understand how this works, go to the range and hit shots with your five-iron gripped down a full inch to make the club the same length as your seven-iron. You will probably see an amazing shot shape difference, and likely not see as much distance loss as you would expect.

Too much lower (right) hand on the club

It seems like almost all golfers of 8-10 handicap or higher have the club too far into the palm of the lower hand, because that feels “good” if you are trying to control the path of the clubhead to the ball. But the golf swing is not an effort to hit at the ball – it is a swing of the club. The proper hold on the club has the grip underneath the pad at the base of the fingers. This will likely feel “weak” to you — like you cannot control the club like that. EXACTLY. You should not be trying to control the club with your lower/master hand.

Gripping too tightly

Nearly all golfers hold the club too tightly, which tenses up the forearms and prevents a proper release of the club through impact. In order for the club to move back and through properly, you must feel that the club is controlled by the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. If you engage your thumbs and forefingers in “holding” the club, the result will almost always be a grip that is too tight. Try this for yourself. Hold the club in your upper hand only, and squeeze firmly with just the last three fingers, with the forefinger and thumb off the club entirely. You have good control, but your forearms are not tense. Then begin to squeeze down with your thumb and forefinger and observe the tensing of the entire forearm. This is the way we are made, so the key to preventing tenseness in the arms is to hold the club very lightly with the “pinchers” — the thumbs and forefingers.

So, those are what I believe are the four fundamentals of a good grip. Anyone can learn them in their home or office very quickly. There is no easier way to improve your ball striking consistency and add distance than giving more attention to the way you hold the golf club.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Clement: Stop ripping off your swing with this drill!



Not the dreaded headcover under the armpit drill! As if your body is defective and can’t function by itself! Have you seen how incredible the human machine is with all the incredible feats of agility all kinds of athletes are accomplishing? You think your body is so defective (the good Lord is laughing his head off at you) that it needs a headcover tucked under the armpit so you can swing like T-Rex?

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How a towel can fix your golf swing



This is a classic drill that has been used for decades. However, the world of marketed training aids has grown so much during that time that this simple practice has been virtually forgotten. Because why teach people how to play golf using everyday items when you can create and sell a product that reinforces the same thing? Nevertheless, I am here to give you helpful advice without running to the nearest Edwin Watts or adding something to your Amazon cart.

For the “scoring clubs,” having a solid connection between the arms and body during the swing, especially through impact, is paramount to creating long-lasting consistency. And keeping that connection throughout the swing helps rotate the shoulders more to generate more power to help you hit it farther. So, how does this drill work, and what will your game benefit from it? Well, let’s get into it.


You can use this for basic chip shots up to complete swings. I use this with every club in my bag, up to a 9 or 8-iron. It’s natural to create incrementally more separation between the arms and body as you progress up the set. So doing this with a high iron or a wood is not recommended.

While you set up to hit a ball, simply tuck the towel underneath both armpits. The length of the towel will determine how tight it will be across your chest but don’t make it so loose that it gets in the way of your vision. After both sides are tucked, make some focused swings, keeping both arms firmly connected to the body during the backswing and follow through. (Note: It’s normal to lose connection on your lead arm during your finishing pose.) When you’re ready, put a ball in the way of those swings and get to work.

Get a Better Shoulder Turn

Many of us struggle to have proper shoulder rotation in our golf swing, especially during long layoffs. Making a swing that is all arms and no shoulders is a surefire way to have less control with wedges and less distance with full swings. Notice how I can get in a similar-looking position in both 60° wedge photos. However, one is weak and uncontrollable, while the other is strong and connected. One allows me to use my larger muscles to create my swing, and one doesn’t. The follow-through is another critical point where having a good connection, as well as solid shoulder rotation, is a must. This drill is great for those who tend to have a “chicken wing” form in their lead arm, which happens when it becomes separated from the body through impact.

In full swings, getting your shoulders to rotate in your golf swing is a great way to reinforce proper weight distribution. If your swing is all arms, it’s much harder to get your weight to naturally shift to the inside part of your trail foot in the backswing. Sure, you could make the mistake of “sliding” to get weight on your back foot, but that doesn’t fix the issue. You must turn into your trial leg to generate power. Additionally, look at the difference in separation between my hands and my head in the 8-iron examples. The green picture has more separation and has my hands lower. This will help me lessen my angle of attack and make it easier to hit the inside part of the golf ball, rather than the over-the-top move that the other picture produces.

Stay Better Connected in the Backswing

When you don’t keep everything in your upper body working as one, getting to a good spot at the top of your swing is very hard to do. It would take impeccable timing along with great hand-eye coordination to hit quality shots with any sort of regularity if the arms are working separately from the body.

Notice in the red pictures of both my 60-degree wedge and 8-iron how high my hands are and the fact you can clearly see my shoulder through the gap in my arms. That has happened because the right arm, just above my elbow, has become totally disconnected from my body. That separation causes me to lift my hands as well as lose some of the extension in my left arm. This has been corrected in the green pictures by using this drill to reinforce that connection. It will also make you focus on keeping the lead arm close to your body as well. Because the moment either one loses that relationship, the towel falls.


I have been diligent this year in finding a few drills that target some of the issues that plague my golf game; either by simply forgetting fundamental things or by coming to terms with the faults that have bitten me my whole career. I have found that having a few drills to fall back on to reinforce certain feelings helps me find my game a little easier, and the “towel drill” is most definitely one of them.

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